Earlier this year Eli Manning made a comment about wanting to be included in the conversation with the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. With the way he has played this season and so far in the postseason, Manning has left no doubt. He belongs. After an excellent regular season when he threw for a career high 4,933 yards and was the consistent force on a Jekyll and Hyde Giants team, Manning has picked up his play in the postseason. This past week, Eli went into Lambeau Field, against the NFL’s best team in the regular season, and sent the Packers on vacation early. He shared the stage with the probable MVP and outplayed him in his house. What else does Manning have to prove? Not only is he one step away from his second Super Bowl appearance but he’s two wins away from his second ring. No matter what happens this weekend against the 49ers, Eli Manning has answered the critics. Once looked at as “Peyton’s little brother” or “the other Manning,” Eli has proven himself to be one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has to offer. There’s no more argument. Eli Manning is an elite quarterback.
Eli Manning joined ESPN Radio in New York to talk about whether or not he thought the game against Green Bay would be as one-sided as it was, what he thought of the officiating in Sunday’s game, if he thought the Giants could get to where they are now even after the loss against the Redskins that made them 7-7, what the plan was at the end of the first half, and what it means to him to have the fan’s support now and get recognized as one of the best QB’s in the NFL.
Whether or not he thought the game against Green Bay would be as one-sided as it was:
“Probably not. I think we probably thought it would be a close game, a tight game, and a game that truly came down to the fourth quarter and one of those where whoever had the ball last would have a shot at winning. The game was close. Obviously the turnover at the end, when they fumbled and we got the ball at the five yard line and scored a touchdown, that was obviously a big turning point in the game. It gave us the lead and helped secure the win right there.”
What he thought of the officiating in the Sunday’s game:
“That’s the only call that I saw that looked like a bad spot. From there I thought whether the one fumble early on that they ruled down I had a lot of text messages after the game from people saying that was definitely a fumble but Coach Coughlin talked to us today about ‘hey don’t get involved with the refs, let me handle the refs.’ Don’t want that to ever get on the player’s minds and all of a sudden have that take away from our focus and what we need to do on the field and getting ready to play that next play.”
If he thought the Giants could get to where they are now even after the loss against the Redskins that made them 7-7:
“Yeah. I think definitely. That was the mindset that we had. We had a tough loss that game but we had done our work earlier in the season getting off to a fast start and we had beaten Dallas the week before so we knew the circumstances and we knew that we had to go play against a good team in the Jets and then the Cowboys again and we just had to win those two. We could get hot. We know we’re a team that can get hot anytime and start playing great football. It’s just a matter of kind of everything coming together, getting the players back, getting the opportunities, and we never lose our confidence in that. Sure enough that’s exactly what started happening. Our defense has stepped up, they’ve been playing outstanding and offensively we’ve been playing smart not making mistakes, being patient, and knowing the big plays will come if we don’t make the big mistakes.”
What the plan was at the end of the first half:
“When we got the ball we were going to try and see if we could hit a play, a big play and yeah maybe try to get in field goal range or a chance to throw a Hail Mary. But first down we got a few yards and then second down had an incomplete pass so then we had a third and one and if you throw it and don’t get the first or had to punt on fourth down you hate to have a blocked punt or something. We had a run called and Green Bay called a timeout so the plan there was to just run out the clock. Then they called the timeout and we had a play where we tried to get it to the outside, we kinda went with a pitch to the left and hey maybe Ahmad (Bradshaw) breaks it for 15 yards and gets out of bounds and we have a shot. We had no timeouts. I told Ahmad ‘just make sure you get out of bounds.’ I said ‘if you break this make sure you get the first but if you break it get out of bounds.’ Sure enough he cut it back and he definitely had his eyes on getting out of bounds so a great run by him and had enough time to throw the Hail Mary and great job by Hakeem (Nicks) just running down there, seeing the ball, and saying ‘hey this thing is coming to me’ and going up there and making a great catch.”
If they ever considered trying to pick up a few yards and go for a field goal as opposed to throwing the Hail Mary:
“I think we just said ‘hey we’re gonna throw it.’ Right away we called for the Hail Mary. It’s one of those things where sometimes you can try and get a quick out but usually they will try to have some guys right on the receivers a little bit so you can’t just throw that little seven or eight yard pass out of bounds and make the field goal quicker. Right when he went out of bounds they sent in the four receivers and right away it was called to throw it in the end zone.”
What it means to him to be loved by the fans now and get recognition from some experts:
“I think for the fans, you definitely want your own fans to appreciate your work, to have faith in you, be confident when you’re in a tough situation or in a game. You’re gonna bring your best ability and best performance so I think the most important thing is your coaches trust you, your teammates have faith in you, and that you stay confident in yourself and your teammates can sense that and that they’re going to go out there and stay confident and play great football. This is a fun time. The last two years not being in it and back here winning games in playoffs is so exciting and I have forgot what it had felt like and it’s a great reminder. The locker room today is outstanding, the locker room last night after the win and just the smiles on the bus and the plane ride. It’s just such an exciting time and not much better than going in today, having meetings, watching the film, and just knowing there’s four teams left in this situation and we have a great opportunity.”